Writing Glitch #10

Today’s glitch:


First of all, it’s not appropriate to use numerals in normal fiction prose. Yes, I know journalism encourages it. Journalism is not fiction. Spell out the numbers: twelve instead of 12. (Numbers for dates are an exception, which will be covered in a later post.)

The big problem here, though, is the lack of hyphens.

You are the twelve-year-old son of a professional assassin.

Not the twelve-year old son or the twelve year-old son. Those three words function together as a compound adjective. (We do not hyphenate them when they’re not functioning as a compound adjective or noun: The twelve-year-old is twelve years old — d’uh.)


About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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2 Responses to Writing Glitch #10

  1. Yup. But here’s the guideline I follow: numbers one through twelve are spelled out. Numbers 13 and above are numerals. The hyphens look weird when you spell out the number, so I use hyphens with numberals, but not when the number is spelled out. Shoot me, but that’s what I do.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Numerals. I never hyphenate my typos.

    Liked by 1 person

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